The impact of lower urinary tract symptoms and comorbidities on quality of life: the BACH and UREPIK studies

Robertson, C. and Link, C.L. and Onel, E. and Mazzetta, C. and Keech, M. and Hobbs, R. and Fourcade, R. and Kiemeney, L. (2007) The impact of lower urinary tract symptoms and comorbidities on quality of life: the BACH and UREPIK studies. British Journal of Urology International, 99 (2). pp. 347-354. ISSN 1464-4096 (

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In a large epidemiological study, authors investigated the effect of LUTS on quality of life among various cultures. They showed a close association between the two, and that the effect of having moderate symptoms has a similar effect on quality of life as diabetes, hypertension or cancer, and that having severe symptoms had a similar effect as a heart attack or stroke. The objectives were to investigate the effect of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) on quality of life (QoL) and to determine its extent across a variety of cultures, and the confounding effects of self-reported comorbidities and demographics. Data were obtained from two population-based studies in five cities: UREPIK (Boxmeer, the Netherlands; Auxerre, France; Birmingham, UK; and Seoul, Korea) and the Boston Area Community Health (BACH) study (Boston, USA). UREPIK used stratified random samples of men aged 40-79 years. BACH used a multistage stratified cluster sample to randomly select adults aged 40-79 years. QoL was assessed using a standard Medical Outcomes Study-Short Form 12 (SF-12, mental and physical health component scores); LUTS was assessed using the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS). The association between QoL and IPSS, associated illnesses, and lifestyle factors was investigated using weighted regression. The UREPIK studied 4800 men aged 40-79 years; BACH recruited 1686 men aged 40-79 years. The prevalence of LUTS, defined as an IPSS of ≥8, varied by city (P < 0.001), with Auxerre reporting a prevalence (se) of 18.1 (1.2)%, Birmingham 25.6 (1.5)%, Boston 25.1 (1.6)%, Boxmeer 21.2 (1.3)%, and Seoul 19.0 (1.2)%. Overall, this was similar to the reported rate of high blood pressure. Severe LUTS, defined as an IPSS of ≥20, affected ≈ 3.3% of the age group; this was roughly similar to stroke (2.2%), cancer (4.5%), or heart attack (4.5%) and less than half as much as diabetes (8.6%). A 10-point increase in IPSS was associated with a 3.3 (0.3)-point reduction in SF-12 physical health component score, with the same effect in all cities (P = 0.682 for the interaction test). This was more than the physical health component score reduction caused by cancer, diabetes, or high blood pressure (2 points each), but less than stroke or heart attack (6 points). The comorbidities had no significant impact on SF-12 mental health component score (other than a heart attack, that had a 1.8-point reduction). A 10-point increase in IPSS was associated with a 3.4 (0.6)-point reduction of the mental health component score in the four western cities and a 1.4 (0.3)-point reduction in Seoul. Increasingly severe LUTS is associated with a lower QoL. The effect of moderate LUTS on QoL physical health component score is similar to that of having diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer, while the effect of severe LUTS is similar to a heart attack or stroke. These changes were consistent across cultures. This analysis shows the magnitude and consistency of the effects of LUTS on QoL. While these patients might be seen by several types of practitioners, it is likely that urologists will be in the best position to recognize the true impact of LUTS on a patient's QoL, to be aware of the effects of therapies for LUTS on QoL, and to ensure that colleagues in other disciplines recognize the importance of these symptoms and their treatment.